Down to Business: Seven tools for sharpening your competitive edge

Andy Singer - Speaking

In order for us to stay on top, we must take time to sharpen our competitive edge. As a busy executive or business owner, your days can turn into weeks and the weeks can turn into months before you know it.

Don’t let too much time slip away before you consider honing your skills. It’s important you step back on a regular basis and work on improving and sharpening the skills that make you truly competitive.

Here are seven ways you can sharpen your competitive edge:

1. Define your brand: Each of us has a personal brand. It’s important that we take the time to examine what truly differentiates you or your business. By understanding what differentiates us, we can continuously define and optimize our brand. It does not matter what type of business you are in, you can build a brand and the stronger your brand, the more protected your business will be in your niche. The other key component to defining your brand is to help your customers discover those differentiators.

2. Engage your customers: One of the best ways to keep a sharp competitive edge is to know your customers. By spending quality time with your customers and learning about their business, you can better understand how to support them and take care of their needs. Maintain your customer relationships and you have a head start on maintaining your competitive edge. Understanding your customers and your customer’s customers can also allow you to more fittingly define your brand.

3. Read: Reading is essential for the successful executive. Reading assures executives have the required depth and detailed knowledge to tackle both tactical and strategic issues. Reading also provides them with the required level of industry knowledge and general economic and political understanding. Executives that don’t read are less capable of understanding complex issues and making sound decisions. It’s not surprising that C-level executives read significantly more books per year than average. The CEOs I speak with typically read three to four books per month.

4. Stay healthy: Physical health is important for a busy executive. The stress and for many of you, the travel, can take their toll on your mind, body and spirit. Assure you eat well and exercise several times a week. Staying healthy allows you to be the charismatic, energetic and productive executive you are.

5. Study your competition: It’s important to study and understand your competition. Not to imitate what they do, but to understand their strengths and weaknesses. In addition to the lessons that may be learned, deep knowledge of your competition allows you to have a more holistic understanding of your marketplace and make better strategic decisions for your company.

6. Be spiritual: It’s important to take time out of your week for the more spiritual aspects of life. For you that may be prayer, meditation or yoga, but whatever you choice, it’s important to partake. Being spiritual allows you to be a better person and provides critical balance in your life.

7. Train: Training should be part of your culture and culture comes from the top down. This means you need to set the example and assure you are constantly training. Training allows you to learn new skills and refresh old ones. By training often you will be better prepared for the globally complex world we live and work in. Train hard and train often.

Sharpening your competitive edge should be a high priority for all managers, executives and business owners. However, as we get immersed in the work of the day and all the pressures on our time, the priority is often lost. Assure you plan each month so that you make the time to sharpen your competitive edge. Help from professional trainers on the outside can make this much easier for you and your organization.

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